Journal of Geodesy

, 85:807 | Cite as

GPS-derived orbits for the GOCE satellite

  • Heike Bock
  • Adrian Jäggi
  • Ulrich Meyer
  • Pieter Visser
  • Jose van den IJssel
  • Tom van Helleputte
  • Markus Heinze
  • Urs Hugentobler
Original Article


The first ESA (European Space Agency) Earth explorer core mission GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) was launched on 17 March 2009 into a sun-synchronous dusk–dawn orbit with an exceptionally low initial altitude of about 280 km. The onboard 12-channel dual-frequency GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver delivers 1 Hz data, which provides the basis for precise orbit determination (POD) for such a very low orbiting satellite. As part of the European GOCE Gravity Consortium the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern and the Department of Earth Observation and Space Systems are responsible for the orbit determination of the GOCE satellite within the GOCE High-level Processing Facility. Both quick-look (rapid) and very precise orbit solutions are produced with typical latencies of 1 day and 2 weeks, respectively. This article summarizes the special characteristics of the GOCE GPS data, presents POD results for about 2 months of data, and shows that both latency and accuracy requirements are met. Satellite Laser Ranging validation shows that an accuracy of 4 and 7 cm is achieved for the reduced-dynamic and kinematic Rapid Science Orbit solutions, respectively. The validation of the reduced-dynamic and kinematic Precise Science Orbit solutions is at a level of about 2 cm.


GOCE GPS Precise orbit determination SLR validation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heike Bock
    • 1
  • Adrian Jäggi
    • 1
  • Ulrich Meyer
    • 1
  • Pieter Visser
    • 2
  • Jose van den IJssel
    • 2
  • Tom van Helleputte
    • 2
  • Markus Heinze
    • 3
  • Urs Hugentobler
    • 3
  1. 1.Astronomical Institute of the University of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Earth Observation and Space SystemsDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institut für Astronomische und Physikalische GeodäsieTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany

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